Extending English-language learners’ classroom ... English-language learners’ classroom interactions…

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440 2007 International Reading Association (pp. 440450) doi:10.1598/RT.60.5.4KATHLEEN A . J. MOHRERIC S. MOHRExtending English-language learners classroom interactions using the Response ProtocolThe Response Protocol is one way tosupport teachers efforts to increaseengagement among ELLs in classroomdiscourse.In order to be proficient and productive students,English-language learners (ELLs) need manyopportunities to interact in social and academicsituations. Effective teachers encourage their stu-dents participation in classroom discussions, wel-come their contributions, and motivate them bysuch practices (Cazden, 2001; Stipek, 2002).However, many educators often allow their less pro-ficient students to remain silent or to participate lessthan their English-fluent peers (Laosa, 1977;Penfield, 1987; Schinke-Llano, 1983; Wilhelm,Contreras, & Mohr, 2004). I (Mohr, first author) re-cently participated in a study focusing on howmainstream classroom teachers helped Spanish-speaking immigrant students become successful atschool. During the observations, I noticed that theteachers missed many opportunities to help ELLscommunicate in class, allowing them to be less in-volved in oral interactions.A byproduct of that study was the analysis presented in this article. We considered what class-room teachers could do to more fully engage ELLs in teacherstudent interactions, especially dur-ing teacher-led question-and-answer sequences.Essentially, teachers can elicit more from the lessproficient or reticent students if they consider vari-ous response options and then enlarge their responserepertoires in order to encourage students partici-pation and help develop their language proficiencies.There are several reasons why ELLs may strug-gle to respond appropriately to teachers promptsand questions. Certainly, not all teacher questionsare clearly understood by students, and, if such is thecase, teachers should rephrase or clarify queries inorder to facilitate student comprehension. Teachersmay also not wait long enough for students to con-sider a question and formulate a response (Nystrand,Gamoran, Kachure, & Prendergast, 1997; Rowe,1974). In addition, while first-language learning islargely motivated by a childs intrinsic desire to so-cialize, second-language learning often needs moreextrinsic influence (Elley & Mangubhai, 1983).Wong Fillmores (1991) model of second-languagelearning identified three motivational componentsthat contribute to student progress: interest from thelearners, proficient speakers who support and inter-act with the learners, and an environment that sup-ports relationships between learners and proficientspeakers. Students may not wish to participate if theteacher expects them simply to recite low-levelknowledge or if the teacher sets low expectations forthe students. Clarity, wait time, higher order think-ing, and higher expectations are factors that influ-ence the quality of teacher interactions with allstudents, but some factors pertain more specificallyto the participation of ELLs.Immigrant students may come from culturesthat do not expect students to ask or answer ques-tions during classroom discussions. These studentsoften perceive the teacher to have elevated statusand think that, as students, they should respectfullylistenrather than talkin the company of theirExtending English-language learners classroom interactions using the Response Protocol 441teachers. Because U.S. classrooms are often lessformal (e.g., teachers sitting on the floor, studentsworking in groups) than their previous educationalenvironments, immigrant students sometimes take awhile to adapt to the typical questionanswer se-quence that is common there. In addition, language-acquisition theory hypothesizes that languagelearners experience an initial silent period, whichis time spent receiving the language as input, priorto developing language-production skills (Krashen& Terrell, 1983; Saville-Troike, 1988). Some teach-ers are aware of these stages and respect thelanguage-acquisition process by not calling on theirELLs. In order to not embarrass or intimidate theirELL students, however, teachers sometimes con-tinue to give dispensations when it comes to re-sponding in class. I have observed that manystudents new to U.S. culture and its educational sys-tem, and students who are timid or reluctant for anyreason, often do not participate readily in class dis-cussions and thereby assume a more passive role inclassroom interactions.Typical classroomsWhile classroom discourse events vary, re-search has indicated that teacher talk dominatesclassroom communication. Edwards and Mercer(1987) documented that teachers perform 76% ofclassroom talk. Ramirez, Yuen, Ramey, and Merino(1986) categorized teacher talk as consisting of ex-planations, questions, commands, modeling, andfeedback. Other studies of teacher discourse in pri-mary grades indicated that teacher talk is often man-agerial rather than conversational in nature (e.g.,Cummins, 1994). Forestal (1990) noted that 60% ofteacher talk involved asking questions, primarilydisplay questions, which expect students to recallinformation taught previously by the teacher. In onestudy of effective primary teachers of literacy, Mohr(1998) tallied the number of questions asked by theteachers in the study at almost 100 per hour.Therefore, the preponderance of teacher talk and theteachers use of questions continue as factors in howmuch classroom talk time is shared with students;both the quantity and quality of such interactionsdeserve scrutiny. For example, there are differencesbetween direct and indirect instruction; the nature oflarge-group discussion requires more guidancefrom the teacher than do small-group interactions(Johnston, 2004), and English-language learnersmay need different support in their communicationefforts than do fluent English speakers. Thus, as-pects of teacher-led discussions and discourse pat-terns warrant our continued attention.Asking and answering questions are typical in-teractions and are expected in most classrooms(Weber & Longhi-Chirlin, 2001). A very commonexchange is referred to as the Initiation-Response-Evaluation (IRE) sequence (Mehan, 1979), similarto what Tharp and Gallimore (1988) termed recita-tion questioning. However, the IRE routine may notoften be supportive of ELLs because it is a conver-gent process of seeking one right answer. ELLs maynot be able to verbalize that answer in a teacher-expected manner (Fitzgerald, 1993; Jimnez,Garca, & Pearson, 1996). Wells and Chang-Wells(1992) recommended that the third component ofsuch exchanges be feedback, rather than evaluation,so that the teacher does more than praise or evalu-ate the students response. Such feedback canachieve a variety of goalsit can clarify, connect,and elaborate the verbal interactions between teach-ers and students and among students themselves.Cazden (2001) differentiated teachers displayquestions from exploratory queries. Display ques-tions have specific and generally agreed-upon an-swers, while exploratory talk is speaking withoutthe answers fully intact (p. 170). Display queriesfunction to confirm the teachers instruction, whilethe latter is more confirming of students as they ex-ercise self-expression and refine their thinking. AsCazden also noted, If the potentialities of class-room discourse, in which students talk more andin more varied ways, are significant for all students,then we have to pay careful attention to who speaksand who receives thoughtful responses (p. 5).Another well-recognized discourse structureis the instructional conversation (Goldenberg,1993; Perez, 1996; Stipek, 2002; Williams, 2001).Goldenberg characterized an instructional conver-sation as excellent discussion that is interesting, en-gaging, relevant to students, and discerniblethroughout and that has a high level of participationthat builds upon, challenges, extends, and variesthe roles of the participants (teacher and students).One key role of the teacher in instructional con-versations is what Perez called conversational up-takes, connective comments that respect the studentThe Reading Teacher Vol. 60, No. 5 February 2007442and afford linguistic scaffolds that foster more andbetter discussion of academic topics. As Reyes,Scribner, and Scribner (1999) pointed out, teach-ers who apply the concept of instructional conver-sations embrace the philosophy that talking andthinking go together, and assume that the studentmay have something to say beyond what the stu-dents teacher or peer is thinking or already knows(p. 202). English-language learners may not havesufficient English to readily express complex ideas,so teachers must respond in ways that facilitateELLs efforts to share their thinking and contributetheir voices to classroom communication.In academic settings, both questionanswerand conversational formats entail the use of aca-demic language. Even students who are conversa-tionally proficient need exposure to and practicewith academic language in order to function suc-cessfully at school (Daz-Rico, 2004; Weber &Longhi-Chirlin, 2001). This important aspect ofschool success is also known as cognitive academ-ic language proficiency (CALP). Academic lan-guage or CALP in English-speaking classrooms ischaracterized by Latinate vocabulary; subordinategrammatical constructions (e.g., participial phras-es, dependent clauses); less reliance on temporalcurrency (discussing generalizations, rather thanspecific events); and rhetorical and cohesive de-vices, such as conjunctions and figurative language(Wong Fillmore, 2002). These linguistic compe-tencies can be greatly enhanced by wide readingbut are generally not learned apart from schoolingprocesses. It is the teachers responsibility, then, tomodel and support students use of both conversa-tional and academic language structures becausethese are not parallel processes.While students command of conversationalfluency is more readily accomplished, proficiencyin academic language appears to take five to sevenyears (Collier, 1989; Cummins, 1981). Academiclanguage is certainly more than vocabulary acqui-sition. Competence in academic English certainlycannot be accomplished without exposure to andpractice with the vocabulary and the structures thatcharacterize the language of school. The teachercan model academic language functions, such asseeking information, comparing, problem solving,and evaluating, and then use classroom interactionsto guide students use of academic talk. The op-portunity to speak academic language before us-ing it in written work is important for English-language learners. It should not be assumed thatbeing able to understand academic language as in-put is equal to being able to produce it. Teacherscan provide the support that students need to ac-quire this more formal register via their own mod-eling or think-alouds (Gibbons, 2002; Weber &Longhi-Chirlin, 2001) and then foster the use ofsimilar structures via interactive discussions, al-lowing students to use academic language in con-text.Recommended practiceCurrently, there is strong support for sociallyconstructed learning, which is based on Vygotskystheory of sociocultural learning (1978). Vygotskyswork, as interpreted by educators, fosters studentsconstruction of knowledge, rather than simple ac-ceptance or reception of transferred information.Accordingly, the teacher serves as a mediator, usinglanguage to support and scaffold student learningwithin a social relationship. An essential tenet ofVygotskys theory is that who we are and how wethink are functions of the social interactions inwhich we participate (Diaz & Flores, 2001). AsGarca (2001) put it, teaching, in this theoreticalview, is perceived as assisted performance....Learning is performance achieved through assis-tance (p. 232). If learning is assisted or well scaf-folded (Wood, Bruner, & Ross, 1976), students canaccomplish tasks and achieve learning that theywould not be able to do on their own. Thus, accord-ing to this theory, the role of the teacher is integralto student learning. It is the teacher who facilitatesthe active transformation of knowledgeor whatCazden (2001) referred to as appropriationandwho supports the students construction of newskills and competencies.An important distinction made by Cazden(2001) is that teachers are responsible for both theaffective and academic aspects of effective class-rooms and classroom talk. Teachers can directclassroom discourse so that both these goals aretargeted and supported. For example, teachers canaccept, deny, recast, expand, or encourage elabo-ration of students responses. Success for studentsin culturally diverse classrooms depends on the de-gree to which there are strategies that encourage allstudents to talk and work together (DeVillar &Faltis, 1991). One strategy (among many) promot-ed by Echevarria and Graves (2003) is the use ofdirect, rather than indirect, questions to promoteclarity. So while instructional talk should be en-gaging, there is a place to use direct questions ofstudents and then facilitate the elaboration of theirresponses as a means to develop academic lan-guage use and motivate them as learners.For ELLs especially, the teacher serves as a con-duit for sharing information and scaffolding socialand academic language. Low levels of instructionand low-quality interactions often combine to yieldpoor academic achievement among students who arebusy constructing the meaning of the language andthe content of school. Rich language interactions,however, encourage thinking, social relationships,and expanded language use. As Johnston (2004) ad-monished, we have to think more carefully aboutthe language we use to offer our students the bestlearning environments we can (p. 1).Causes for concernDuring the recent research project mentionedearlier, I (Mohr, first author) made regular observa-tions of immigrant students newly admitted to apublic elementary school (Mohr, 2004). Onesalient finding of the study of the immigrant stu-dents first year in the school district was the mini-mal time they spent talking, either in whole-class orsmall-group formats. The teachers, although wellintended and courteous to ELLs, were reluctant toengage the newcomers in classroom discussion(Mohr; Wilhelm et al., 2004). The limited oral in-teraction for these immigrants was addressed insubsequent teacher interviews, and the teachersclaimed that they were allowing an extended silentperiod (of nearly 10 months at the point of thestudy) to the new studentsletting them get com-fortable. To observers, however, the studentsseemed neglected. Perhaps the teachers were af-fected by the presence of the researchers, but theteachers were aware that the focus of the study wason the social and academic adjustment of the newimmigrant students, so it was more likely that theteachers paid as much or more attention to thesestudents during the observations than they did oth-erwise. The lack of teacher-supported discourseamong the students served as the impetus for fur-ther research and this current discussion.The results of the aforementioned study werenot atypical. ELLs are often less engaged and lessvocal in class, posing a challenge for teachers, es-pecially less experienced ones (Laosa, 1977;Penfield, 1987; Schinke-Llano, 1983). Noviceteachers often ask low-level questions to quicklyget to a simple, right answer. However, more ef-fort on the part of the teacher to challenge studentswith open-ended and exploratory questions canyield richer instructional communications.During the aforementioned study, the observersrealized that the teachers were not making use of thevariety of communication options available to them.To maximize instructional interactions, teachersshould consider various response options and en-large their repertoires to encourage students par-ticipation in socially constructed learning. Forexample, one aspect of teacher-supported interac-tion is how to handle students silence. Languagelearners certainly can understand more than theycan produce, especially at the beginning stages.Therefore, just because students do not speak outdoes not mean that they do not comprehend the dis-cussion or have something to contribute.Teachers should assume that, like an icebergthat shows only a small percentage of its massabove the water, students have a great deal of com-petence that is not yet evident. Put simply, teach-ers and researchers need to be careful not tointerpret silence or one-word answers as lack ofknowledge (Cazden, 2001, p. 86). This might beparticularly true among learners who have not con-sistently been held to high expectations. In an in-teresting study of working class boys, Brown andher colleagues (as cited in Cazden, 2001) deter-mined that working class boys needed twice asmany prompts as middle class children to elicit thesame knowledge base. This indicates that teachersmight have to be persistent in their efforts to en-gage students in classroom talk, especially thosewhose language and cultural backgrounds differfrom that of the teacher.Enlarging the teachers repertoireAnticipating possible language difficultiesshould lead to appropriate scaffolding, not loweredExtending English-language learners classroom interactions using the Response Protocol 443expectations for student performance. Therefore,teachers should diligently seek to engage ELLs inclassroom talk. ELLs should be expected to par-ticipate, and when they do their responses couldfall into one or more of the following six cate-gories: an appropriate or correct response; apartially correct response; an incorrect or inappro-priate response; a response in their native language,rather than in English; another question; or no re-sponse. What should teachers do in response tothese possibilities? How can they prepare to ad-dress these opportunities to support students learn-ing? The following Response Protocol is designedto help teachers better their understanding of stu-dents language development and broaden theirrepertoires for meeting the needs of this specialpopulation. (All names used in the samples arepseudonyms.)Responses that are correctIf a student responds with a suitable answer toa teacher-generated question, the teacher may begratified by the students confirmation of theteachinglearning process. Most teachers praisestudents for correct responses. However, if thequestionanswer sequence attends to low-levelthinking processes (e.g., recall, yes or no items,confirmational queries), teachers can make appro-priate use of praise (Brophy, 1981), but they shouldalso encourage students to elaborate their respons-es. ELLs know more than they might readily speakof, so even when giving an appropriate response,they should be encouraged to tell more, to explaintheir answers, or to elaborate their responses (seeTable 1). Another element to add to appropriate re-sponses is a confirmation that the students use ofEnglish is effective. Even if uttered in nonstandardEnglish, if the message is comprehensible and evi-dences the students understanding, commentingabout the correctness and comprehensibility of theEnglish should serve to encourage participationand elaboration on the part of the student.For example, once during a shared readingabout reptiles with a small group of English-language learners, a boy named Jorge was very in-terested in the section on turtles. He excitedlyresponded to the teachers open-ended question,What do you know about turtles?Jorge: Turtles can go.Teacher: Yes, turtles can go, but where and how?Jorge: Turtles go maybe fast over.Teacher: Jorge, tell me more about how turtles go?Jorge: A turtle go over the road to be safe. I knowbecause I saw it.Teacher: Yes, Jorge, turtles sometimes cross overthe road. I have also seen turtles cross aroad, and I am glad when they make it all theway across, arent you?Jorge: Yeah, go, go turtles!Responses that are partially correctIf a student provides even a partially correct re-sponse, the teacher can value the contribution, re-inforce the correct portion, and then attempt torefine the response (see Table 2). Students have pri-or knowledge of the world that they make use of atschool, as Jorge did in the previous example.However, sometimes their prior knowledge is lim-ited and they need help to accommodate new learn-ing into their schemata. Partially correct responsesprovide an excellent opportunity to hone studentsThe Reading Teacher Vol. 60, No. 5 February 2007444TABLE 1Examples of teacher elaborations of correct responsesYoure right! Can you tell me more?Yes, thats good. What else do you know about that?You are correct. How did you learn that?Yes, thats a very good answer. Can you also tell mewhy this (concept, information) is important?I like that good thinking, and I like the way you saidthat. (Perhaps repeat the answer.)Good thinking! Good English!TABLE 2Examples of teacher elaborations of partially correct responsesThank you. Could you tell me more about that?Yes, I agree that ______. Now, lets think more about______.Youre telling me some good things, especially thepart about ______. What else?Were heading in the right direction, but thats notquite complete. Do you or anyone else have somethingto add?thinking, to clarify their knowledge on a certaintopic, and to lead to new learning (Clay, 1993).For example, during a lesson on the water cy-cle, a second-grade teacher was reading aloudDown Comes the Rain (Branley, 1997) to her class.The students were all Latino, and many wereSpanish dominant and learning English at school.As the teacher was reading the book aloud, she of-ten stopped to ask questions and hear studentscomments. During the discussion, the teacher men-tioned that weather forecasters often report thechance of precipitationone of the vocabularywords and important concepts in their thematicunit. The students were actively involved in the dis-cussion, but at times their comments evidencedtheir rather nave perspectives. Here is an excerptof the ensuing conversation:Teacher: Do you watch the weatherman on TV? Whatis he telling us when he talks about precipi-tation?Student: It means rain. But, teacher, the weathermanlied. He said we get rain today. We dont getrain today.Teacher: OK, but lets talk about that; lets think thatthrough. What does the weatherman do?Hes a scientist. So, what does he do that wedo in our experiments?Student: Does he have to do predictions like us?Teacher: Yes, he does. And sometimes what hap-pens?Student: Predictions dont always work.Teacher: Thats right! But remember, a weathermanhas to go to school for many, many years.A weatherman studies a lot and then has touse what he knows to make a prediction.Student: OK, teacher, the weatherman is good.Teacher: He does try to be a good scientist, and mostof the time his predictions are correct.Responses in a language other than EnglishIt can be very frustrating for monolingualEnglish teachers to have students use their first lan-guages, rather than English, to respond in class.Some teachers perceive that students who do so arebeing inconsiderate, but rather teachers can chooseto see this behavior as encouraging (see Table 3). Atleast such a student seems to be interested and trans-acting with the lesson. In fact, studies show that stu-dents other-language talk in classrooms is oftenlargely on task (Kasten, 1997; Valdes, 1998). Evenwhen students who share a common first languageare whispering to one another, their language usual-ly revolves around explaining what the teacher istalking about or clarifying the procedures that thestudents are expected to complete. Generally, teach-ers should not feel threatened when other languagesare spoken in their classrooms. In fact, some younglearners sometimes dont know which of theirwords and structures are or are not English. Oneexample is when a second-grade English-languagelearner confidently labeled the black-and-white,sometimes smelly animal she saw in a book as elskunko. This example evidences the language-transference confusion that can occur, so teachersshould not be surprised when especially young stu-dents mix and match their languages.Responses that are questionsGiven the preponderance of teacher talk as men-tioned previously, student questions might be rareor unexpected. But students queries are importantdiagnostic opportunities for teachers and should beappreciated and responded to carefully (see Table 4).In a particular high-performing first-grade class-room known to the authors, the teacher had a jar of100 marbles at the front of the room. She used themarbles to encourage student questions. The chal-lenge was that for each students question that wasasked to help all learn more, the teacher wouldmove a marble from one glass jar to another glassjar. When the 100 marbles were all transferred tothe second jar, the class could plan a special reward.The studentsgoal was often to earn more recess or aExtending English-language learners classroom interactions using the Response Protocol 445TABLE 3Examples of teacher elaborations of responsesin a language other than EnglishAll right. That sounds interesting to me. How can wesay that in English? (Wait and model conventionalEnglish.)Do you know any words in English to say that?Call on someone (one of your friends) to help tell uswhat you said in English.Can you help us translate that into English? (Repeatthe question; call on more than one student, and thenmodel an appropriate response in English.)popcorn party, but the teachers goal was to encour-age good questions that benefited everyone in thelearning process. The students learned that good stu-dents have good questions and that not knowingsomething was part of the process, as long as oneasked questions to find out more. These studentswere motivated to ask questions that the teacherwould acknowledge with a marble, and the ques-tioning process afforded opportunities for morelearning in a shared community.Responses that are inappropriate or wrongAgain, when students respond incorrectly or in-sufficiently to teacher questions, the teacher can feeldisappointed because the teachinglearning processdoes not seem to be proceeding smoothly and effi-ciently. However, teachers must avoid the tempta-tion to blame the student for not listening or pro-cessing the question well. Instead, the teachershould use incorrect responses as a means of ongo-ing assessment to determine students needs andmisunderstandings (Hudelson, 1984). If teacherscheck student understanding during instruction,rather than wait until the end of the lesson, theteacher has the opportunity to reteach or clarify mis-understandings (see Table 5). One differentiationthe teacher can make regarding incorrect responsesis whether the source of the miscommunication iscontent or language based. Some students lack thelinguistic ability in English to express themselvesclearly, but this does not preclude their comprehen-sion of the material. With support from the teacher,ELLs can refine their linguistic competence so thatthey can communicate their knowledge of content.The following is an example to illustrate this point.Before reading a book about sharks, the teacher askedthe students to tell what they knew about the com-monly feared creatures. The teacher was momentarilysurprised when one student said that her older sisterhad swum with sharks. Fortunately, the teacher fol-lowed up with more discussion.Teacher: Araceli, did your sister really swim withsharks? Was she in the ocean with sharks?Araceli: Yeah, at Sea World, but in the big pool.Teacher: Oh, did your family visit Sea World and didyour sister swim in the pool with sharks? Orwas it with dolphins?Araceli: Yeah, thats right, with some dolphins.Teacher: So, are dolphins and sharks the same? Orare they different ocean animals?Araceli: Maybe they different?Teacher: OK, lets read this book and see if we canlearn how sharks and dolphins are the sameor different. Thank you, Araceli, for tellingus something about your trip to Sea World.Silent responsesSometimes a student might respond with si-lence or the ubiquitous I dont know. When thishappens, teachers can be easily frustrated andtempted to make judgments about a students abil-ity and motivation to learn. Such a conclusion is atbest premature and certainly not productive. So,rather than move on to another student or providethe answer him- or herself, a teacher needs to com-The Reading Teacher Vol. 60, No. 5 February 2007446TABLE 4Examples of teacher responses to student questionsThank you for asking. Understanding is important.Good learners ask lots of questions.Thank you for asking a question. Questions can helpus all be better learners. Wow! That is a great (or important) question. Do youknow anything that will help you answer that ques-tion?I am glad you asked that question. How can the restof us answer your question?Let me first answer your question, and then I will askmy question again.Do you want to call on another student to answeryour question? Do you want one of your classmates tohelp you?TABLE 5Examples of teacher elaborations of incorrect or confusing responsesHelp me understand what you mean. Tell me again.Tell me more so I know what youre thinking.I want to know what you are thinking. Can you tell memore?You said ______. But, I thought that _______. Please,help me understand.Do you think ______ or ______? (Give a right answeras one of the options.)municate belief in the students ability to contributemore and maintain high expectations for studentperformance (see Table 6). Waiting a few more sec-onds for an answer is certainly one option. Smiling,moving closer to the student (while respecting cul-tural proxemics), and rephrasing the query more di-rectly or in a more conversational style may alsoencourage the student to respond. Asking for othercontributions and then returning to the student aftera few other students have participated communi-cates a kind, but powerful, message that values thestudents participation. It says to the student, I amgiving you some time, but I do want you to con-tribute to our discussion.Some of these actions may seem insistent, butthey can be done courteously and with warmth.The consequences of not following up on studentsresponses can be far more detrimental. Our class-room observations (mentioned earlier) includedwell-behaved, less gregarious students simply re-maining silent through hours of classroom instruc-tion, despite stated school goals that targetedEnglish-language proficiency for limited-English-speaking students. Honoring silence has limitedvalue in such a context and unfortunately can per-petuate teachers and students notions that ELLsshould not be fully integrated into classroom ac-tivities. When ELLs say I dont know, they maybe meaning that they dont know how to expresstheir knowledge in English. Teachers can facilitatethese students need for communicative compe-tence by asking students to demonstrate or drawtheir responses, as well as giving them options forparticipating in the discussion.Increasing classroom talk with English-language learnersThe Response Protocol recommended here ischaracterized by two key elements: valuation ofstudents response efforts and the teachers effortsto scaffold elaboration. Teachers may not feel en-tirely comfortable using the examples provided, butthey can plan and employ similar responses thatvalue and extend ELLs talk in the classroom. Thegoal is to establish a community in which all mem-bers are respected and accountable. One way tothink about classroom interaction is to beckon,broaden, and build students language and con-ceptual knowledge. Teachers must seek student in-put by beckoning their participation and thecontribution of their ideas. Once offered, studentscontributions should be elaborated or broadenedto address more of the instructional content and de-velop more sophisticated language use. Finally, theteacher can build the students concept knowledgeand language competence by exploring the context,emphasizing the key components, and rephrasingstructures.If teachers model the use of feedback that ex-tends student responses, students may likely followthe teachers example in their small-group discus-sion with peers as has happened among studentstrained in reciprocal teaching. Thus, the patterns thatare established during teacher-directed interactionmay be used in conversations between students. Itis important that supportive protocols become natu-ralized ways of talking about learning (Johnston,2004) and pivotal platforms for critical thinking.Teacher educators can use the examples and recom-mendations offered here as a framework for preser-vice teachersobservations of field assignments. It isalso recommended that preservice and inserviceteachers monitor their own discourse in classroomsettings to make productive adjustments.The focus in this discussion is on English-language learners, but these discourse patterns ap-ply in many learning contexts. However, it is ELLswho are more likely to become passive becauselanguage and cultural differences can disconnectthem from mainstream schooling. Teachers at allgrade levels face the challenge to increase and im-prove the language use of their students; thus edu-cators should consider what they do and could dobetter and then apply communication structuresExtending English-language learners classroom interactions using the Response Protocol 447TABLE 6Examples of teacher elaborations in response to student silenceI think you know something about this, and I wouldlike to hear what you have to say.Can you show us what you know by acting it out ordrawing it?Im going to come back to you and ask you again.Please get ready to talk with us.I want to hear from you in this lesson. Get ready withan answer or a question.I expect you to know this/to have something to say.Let me know when you are ready. (Provide a yes orno question or an either/or choice.)that are appropriate for both the age and proficien-cy of the student. The following are some generalguidelines. Uphold high expectations for student partici-pation. Expect everyone to contribute. Duringkey discussions, use a class roster to keep trackof students participation levels and employways to get students talking beyond havingthem raise their hands (e.g., choral responses,shared reading, and paired discussions). Practice behaviors that value and elaborate stu-dents contributions. Smile and share commoncourtesies. Make eye contact and move closerto the speaker, if possible, unless these ges-tures seem to make a student uncomfortable. Allow sufficient wait time, including patientpauses that support students possible needfor code switching (i.e., thinking or speakingin one language and switching to another).Repeating the question or prompt allowsmore time for processing while engagingmore students. Use yes or no, either, or other prompts tobridge language gaps. Because oral languageproduction competence follows receptionskills, students can comprehend more thanthey can verbalize. Giving students a way toshow their knowledge without having to con-struct complete sentences keeps students in-volved and scaffolds their use of English toevidence their understanding. Accept phrases and partial answers and mod-el more complete sentences. Helping studentselaborate their ideas into full sentences withacademic structures and terms will help themto write their ideas down in more standardEnglish. Model standard pronunciation and grammar.Slowing down, oversimplifying, or speakingmore loudly are not necessary. Rephrasingand gesturing to help convey meaning aremore helpful. Remember to amplify, not sim-plify (Gibbons, 2002). Find time to make small talk on a one-to-onebasis. Ask questions frequently and listencarefully to student responses. Making timefor less intimidating exchanges (e.g., smallgroups, individual conferences) may provideinformation that you can use when leadingwhole-group discussions later. Dont relent on your expectation of partici-pation. Practice possible follow-up respons-es to enlarge your response repertoire.Videotape some key class discussions to helpself-assess your effectiveness with ELLs. Be a good listener, focusing on the contentof the message rather than its grammaticalstructure. Acknowledging a students mes-sage is likely to increase interaction, whilecorrecting grammar may not and, in fact,might shift the focus from content to form. Learn some key phrases in the students na-tive language to make a connection and toshare the language-learning process withyour students.These guidelines can help teachers to becomemore exploratory in their interactions with studentsof varying language skills, intellectual levels, anddispositions. They can serve as a challenge, espe-cially to preservice and novice teachers who can ex-pect to have ELLs in their classrooms. New teachersmay not readily anticipate the needs of their ELLs,although teacher education programs have putgreater emphasis on meeting the needs of culturallyand linguistically diverse learners. Still, the chal-lenge to use ordinary words to accomplish extraor-dinary things remains. The Response Protocol is oneway to support teachers efforts to increase engage-ment among ELLs in classroom discourse.Kathleen Mohr teaches at the University ofNorth Texas (Teacher Education andAdministration, University of North Texas, POBox 310740, Denton, TX 76203, USA). E-mailmohr@coe.unt.edu. Eric Mohr teaches at FriscoHigh School in Frisco, Texas, USA.ReferencesBranley, F.M. (1997). Down comes the rain. New York:HarperTrophy.Brophy, J. (1981). Teacher praise: A functional analysis.Review of Educational Research, 51, 532.Cazden, C.B. (2001). Classroom discourse: The language ofteaching and learning (2nd ed.). Portsmouth, NH:Heinemann.Clay, M.M. (1993). 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